The struggle between Pan-Africanism and African Internationalism is a contest for the truth, between African petty bourgeoisie and the African workers.
It does not happen in vacuum or in outer space, it happens in a parasitic capitalist world that is split between oppressed and oppressors nations, between bosses and workers, petty bourgeoisie and working class.
There is no Pan-Africanism in general. It has a class ownership.
Pan-Africanism cannot be a philosophy of Jacob Zuma, Nelson Mandela, Thabo Mbeki and Marikana’s workers at the same time.
The first thing to clarify is to say the struggles between African people and previous invaders such as Arabs, Greeks, Romans, is not Pan-Africanism. African-Egypt history is not Pan Africanism either.
What we are looking at is a process that began in 1415 when the Portuguese attacked Africa, began a transformation of Europe, which took a decisive turn with the conquest and theft of the Americas in 1482, and the subsequent enslavement of Africans in the Americas, and to the assault of Asia and the Middle East, Australia and the Pacific Islands.
This is the primitive accumulation Chairman of the African People’s Socialist Party (APSP) talks about in “An Uneasy Equilibrium” (page 79):
“The problem is that the arrival of capitalism marks the emergence of Europe and white people as the driving economic and political force in the world. It marks a signal moment, a turning point, in the fortunes of white people and the world.
“It is the beginning of an era from which the progressive material development of the white world would henceforth be measured.”
Marcus Garvey’s struggle for African Liberation
Before the rise of Marcus Garvey and his UNIA, the term Pan-Africanism was loosely used; it has no recognized organization or philosophy. It was applied to people like Henry Sylvester Williams, a Trinidad-born lawyer, who organized the first Pan-African Conference, for a reform of colonialism. There were Africans in the Caribbean, Brazil and the U.S. who returned home under different schemes.
It was Garvey who was the first to create an organization that unites African people all over the world.
“Marcus Garvey created the first modern international African liberation movement with one philosophy, one central leadership and one organization without borders across the African world—the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).
“It was based amongst the poor African workers and poor peasants across the world, conscious of its own existence as an organization for the national liberation of black people.
“Garvey’s movement was part of the worldwide national liberation of oppressed nations of his time. That is why Garvey sent solidarity messages to the Russian Revolution in 1917 and to the Irish Liberation Movement.” (The Burning Spear; Dec 2009.)
Garvey initiated “do for self” programs to fund his movement and unify the African economy across the world. That is why the UNIA bought commercial ships. The UNIA had over six million members and branches throughout the U.S., in every island in the Caribbean, in West Africa and Europe.
UNIA was selling 200,000 copies of the Negro World every week, and they did that in 3 languages: French, English and Spanish.
Garvey and the UNIA were winning. All forces opposed to African national liberation being independent and enjoying our own leadership were vehemently opposed to Garvey.
Pan-Africanism was born as an attack on Garvey’s effort to unify Africa and African people
W.E Dubois emerged as the leader of black forces opposed to the success of Marcus Garvey and his UNIA. Chairman Omali Yeshitela summed up that, “Pan-Africanism was born as an attack on Marcus Garvey’s movement.”
On the contrary, DuBois, who had no base among the African working class and poor peasants in the U.S. or across the world, who had no economic program for African people anywhere, was tied to the liberal bourgeoisie who funded his organization, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), a U.S.-only based organization.
DuBois called on the good will of imperialism to grant us some rights. DuBois, despite his intellectual brilliance in producing several books, promoted a philosophy of compromise with imperialism.
He promoted “Talented Tenthism,” which speaks only to the material interests of a tiny minority of the African petty bourgeoisie.”
In a letter to Charles Hughes, the U.S. secretary of state, DuBois wrote that “the Pan Africanist Congress is for conference, acquaintanceship and general mobilization.
“It has nothing to do with the so-called Garvey Movement and contemplates neither force nor revolution in its program.”
He continued, “We have the cordial cooperation of the French, Belgian and Portuguese governments and we hope to get the attention and sympathy of all colonial powers.”
DuBois wrote a similar letter to the British ambassador in Washington. “The purpose of these letters was to obtain governmental support for the 1921 Pan African Congress in London.” (Race First, pg. 290 Tony Martin)
Dubois’ and Padmore’s 5th Pan Africanist principles for reforming colonialism shows severe and tragic limitations
This excerpt from Chairman’s book “One Africa! One Nation!” reveals “the petty bourgeois characters and limitations of Pan-Africanism as developed by Dubois and Padmore in 1945.
“For the first time it wasn’t just the intellectual petty bourgeoisie. There were representatives from labor organizations and greater participation of the masses.
“Kwame Nkrumah attended this congress. It was a larger congress and they put out some rather progressive documents…Padmore and DuBois put together pacifist, non-violent solutions.
“Padmore influenced Nkrumah. He worked with Nkrumah right here in London and in other places in England. They came up with a parliamentary strategy for liberation.
“It was a non-violent, non-communist, pacifist and parliamentary strategy…Nkrumah influenced Lumumba and Sobukwe who built the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania.”
Although this was a progressive anti-colonial document, it was also a petty bourgeois reformist document with no transformation of society on the agenda.
Impotence of Congo’s August 1960 Pan-Africanist conference signals the attacks to overthrow Lumumba’s government.
The tragic limitation of panafricanism were plainly exposed with the rise of Lumumba to power in June 1960, where masses of workers and peasants at decisive moment , were deprived of playing active roles in defending their newly-acquired flag independence.
Pan-Africanism left the masses unprepared and disarmed to take on white power in black face. Pan-Africanism is petty bourgeois intellectual opportunism, based on selfish class interests.
To live off workers and poor peasants means that they cannot build a single organization, with a single discipline necessary to unify the African national liberation movement.
The short-term Pan-Africanist fight for parliamentary seats, the nonviolence and no struggle with the State sacrificed the long-term struggle for revolution.
Lumumba hosted a Pan-Africanist Conference in August 1960 in an attempt to go beyond the Pan-Africanist conclusion. This was rejected by the participants.
It was clear to the comprador and bureaucratic sector of the African petty bourgeoisie that Lumumba’s Pan-Africanism was powerless against imperialism.
This failure of Congo’s Pan Africanist Conference was the green light for Negro colonialist to overthrow Lumumba’s government.
Nkrumah was himself overthrown five years later.
The creation of OAU was a victory of opportunism over Nkrumah’s vision of one Africa.
The African Unity (AU), formerly OAU, is the embodiment of Pan Africanism of Nyerere, Kenyatta, Senghor and others today in the world.
It was created to frustrate Nkrumah’s effort to unify Africa. It is defended today by Mbeki, Museveni and those Africans who have joined the AU as part of the 6th region.
It is the AU that maintains intangibility of the African borders at the mercy of foreign powers while the presidents are bathing in a sea of wealth.
African Internationalism is the worldview of the African working class developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela. It is a worldview that points to the beginning and the revolutionary end of imperialism.
The history of philosophy in the West in the last 500 years has been the history of defence of parasitic capitalism, the defence of the way of life of white people at everyone else’s expense.
African Internationalism is the revolutionary basis for building a new world led by the colonized workers through the eradication of parasitic capitalism and all manifestations of its opportunist philosophies and principles among which Pan-Africanism sits.
African internationalism is revolutionary struggle under the leadership of the African working in a struggle to liberate and unify Africa.
Smash Pan-Africanism and black opportunism!
Forward African Internationalism!